Production on a major part of China’s Long March-5 large-thrust carrier rocket has been completed and its maiden voyage is expected to take place during the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), according to its producer.
The entire production of the new generations of rockets, including the Long March-5 and -6, will be housed in a large industrial base in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, said Ma Xingrui, general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which designs and manufactures major products for the country’s space industry such as the Shenzhou manned spacecraft and the Long March rocket series.
The Tianjin Aerospace Industry Base, with an area of 4,700 mu (313.33 hectares), has been built with a total investment of more than 6 billion yuan (938 million U.S. dollars), according to the CASC.
It is designed to meet China’s growing demand for space technology research and development over the next 30 to 50 years. By integrating the industrial chain, the base will be able to produce an entire spectrum of rockets of different sizes and types for the nation’s moon probe project, space station and other projects, according to the corporation.
The base is built for the design, production, assembly and testing of new generations of carrier rockets, space stations and special equipment, and it provides high-end services such as aerospace software, Ma said.
The construction of a 220,000-sq.m. workshop for new-generation carrier rockets has been completed at the base, he said.
The Long March-5 rocket is scheduled to be put into service in 2014,Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the CASC-affiliated China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology which designs and produces the rocket, has said during previous interviews.
With a maximum low Earth-orbit payload capacity of 25 tonnes and high Earth-orbit payload capacity of 14 tonnes, Long March V rockets will be among the world’s leaders in payload capacity and reliability, Liang said, adding that the 25-tonne maximum capacity is 2.5 times that of in-service Long March rockets.
The production of a core cabin for China’s manned space station and large satellites will also begin during the 2011-2015 period, Ma said.